Britpop gods. Blur first showed up as the London antidote to Madchester with their single There's No Other Way and their album Leisure, in 1991, followed by the 1993 album Modern Life is Rubbish. These were a moderate success, but when they appeared at Aston University's Fresher's Ball later that year, they were considered has-beens, and most people preferred to concentrate on their drink than the band.

Consider these students' surprise, then, when Blur returned triumphantly to stardom with their laddish singalong-friendly Parklife single, and accompanying album, in 1994.

A much publicised rivalry with Oasis followed, possibly pushed by record company pressure, leading to a disappointing 1995 followup album, The Great Escape, with its irritating, laughable single Country House (complete with farcical Benny Hill-esque video directed by Damien Hurst).

The band were deeply unhappy with the direction they were taking, and a hiatus ensued. When they returned in 1997 with the album Blur, it was (to me) a triumph. Straightforward, driving, guitar-led songs like MOR and Song 2 (adopted by almost every MTV-ified sporting occasion on the planet) were complemented by gentler songs such as Beetlebum and Death of a Party.

The album 13 brings us up to date and sees the gospel-tinged Tender, as the first single. The whole album is consumed by singer-songwriter Damon Albarn's despair upon losing a girlfriend (Elastica's Justine Frischmann -- not dead, just left him).